Educator's Guide: Language Arts: In the Words of George Yost


George Yost was only 14 years old when he joined the crew of the U.S.S. CAIRO, yet he had the foresight to keep a journal of daily activities while on board the Union Gunboat. Since all of the U.S.S. CAIRO's official papers went down with her when she sank over 130 years ago, the Yost Journal is the only primary source of information that remains about this unique Civil War Gunboat. Although several books have been written about the U.S.S. CAIRO, these books were not written by eyewitnesses, and are thus considered secondary sources. Researchers often consult primary or original sources, like the Yost Journal To make an original document more readable, it is often necessary to transcribe, or write out, the document. By transcribing the journal of George Yost, we have learned much about the career of the U.S.S. CAIRO and her crew. What can you learn?


Provide students with copies of original page from George Yost Journal. Instruct students to transcribe the Journal entry by handwriting it on a separate piece of paper. When students are finished, ask for a volunteer to read the transcribed Journal entry and then discuss the contents.

Classroom Activity:

  • Language Arts
  • Social Studies


  • 9- 12


Students will learn basic research skills by transcribing an original document.


Copies of journal document, notebook paper, pencils.

George Yost Diary materials used with the Permission: Illinois State Historical Library, Springfield Illinois

Last updated: April 14, 2015

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